Inquest to probe delay in treatment for woman said to have overdosed on diet pills

Inquest to probe delay in treatment for woman said to have overdosed on diet pills
Laganside House. Pic: John D McDonald, Flickr

A coroner in the North is to investigate whether delays in medical treatment contributed to the death of a woman believed to have overdosed on diet pills there.

Edel Houston, 23, from Glebe Road East in Newtownabbey, died in June last year.

A preliminary hearing in Belfast's Laganside House was told the scope of an inquest would examine the pills and their effect as well as the treatment she received by paramedics at Antrim Area Hospital.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said: "One of the big issues with this lady's death concerns the delay and whether that delay had any effect at all."

Mr McCrisken said he had not yet received statements from two paramedics, adding that their testimony and evidence from a triage nurse and the "nurse in charge" would be "crucial" to the forthcoming inquest.

"They were spoken to during the investigation so it will not be a surprise that they will be required to give evidence," he added.

A serious adverse incident report, produced by the Northern Trust which runs Antrim Area Hospital, would also be examined at inquest, the coroner said.

None of Ms Houston's relatives were in court for the brief hearing. Barrister Matthew Corkey said the family were out of the jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, Mr Corkey said there were some issues around identifying exactly which tablets had been consumed.

He said the chemical profile of high profile diet pills, highlighted in the media, had not been fully identified and suggested it may be useful to call a toxicology expert.

Outlining his intention to hold the inquest before the end of October, the coroner concluded: "This young lady's death was last June.

"That is over a year now. I really do not want there to be any further delays.

"This inquest will move at pace from this point on."

The case has been adjourned.


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